October 26, 2010,
B.S. asks from Center, TX on October 19, 2008
Destructive 2 1/2 Year Old Boy
I am at my wits end with my son! He is by far the most destructive child I've ever met! He tears up EVERYTHING. He breaks his toys and all of my home decor! I have done everything I can think of to discipline him but to no avail! I have to constantly follow him around the house constantly to keep him away from things he's not suppose have. Not only does he destroy everything in his path, he also refuses to eat anything unless it's candy. When I tell him to sit down and eat his food he dumps his food in the floor and smashes it all in the carpet.I'm going crazy and I don't know how to handle him. I feel like he is the head of the house instead of me. PLEASE HELP!
So What Happened?™
Thanks everybody for the excellent advice. I'm trying my best to give him more attention and love. I think some of it is a cry for more attention which is sometimes hard to give with a younger child in the house. He definitely has a hard time understanding why he has to be gentle with his sister and why she has to have a bit more attention than he does. He tends to get extrememly angry alot of the time when he don't get his way. Hopefully, it will all turn around now that I have some advice to help me out. Thanks
S.J. answers from Tulsa on October 20, 2008
I have copy and pasted my posting to someone else below. It is written for a woman's daughter, however, please try it....it works!!!
I also have a very headstrong daughter and this is what worked with her....Giving her choices. Many times children feel like they have no contorl over their lives, mom or dad tell them what to wear, when to eat, what to eat, etc. By giving the child choices, they feel like they are in control (when actually, you still are!). The key is to give 2 choices with each question (and ask as many as possible to give them more choices), either choice you are happy with.
When your daughter tells you she is thirsty, you say:
Would you like the red cup or the orange one?
Would you like juice or milk?
Would you like a lid or a straw?
Would you like to drink it in the kitchen or at the dining room table?
This works with discipline too...
When your daughter shows inappropriate behaviour, you say:
That behaviour is not acceptable in our home (or at church, or at the supermarket, etc.), would you like to spend 5 minutes time out in on your bed or in the dining room chair? If the child refuses to choose, you just up the time and repeat the same question. Again, if they refuse to choose, you just up the time and repeat the same question. Eventually they will see that the time is getting longer and longer and will choose.
The tough part is sticking with it in the beginning. When they refuse to choose (when it's not discipline) or try to give another option, you choose for them and STICK TO IT. This teaches them that if they won't choose from your options that you will take control back and choose for them. It won't take very long until they will choose because they will learn that if they don't you will choose for them and take the control away. If they refuse to choose (when it is discipline) you just keep upping the time and at some point you just stick with it so they will remember the next time that the punishment is worse if they don't choose.
My daughter is now 17 and a wonderful young lady, however, at 2 she was driving me crazy because she was so stubborn and strong willed. This method worked wonders on her, even in her potty training. These children won't do what you want them to do just because you want them to do it, they won't do it until they decide to do it and that can be quite frustrating!
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C.G. answers from Huntsville on October 20, 2008
My Daughter was that way from about 18 months. Now at almost 2yrs and 8 mos she is fineally getting out of it. I read the suggestions and I agree with Both of them.
I used the following:
More Structure-such as letting her color/draw with crayons or a pencil, if the weather doesn't cooperate for her to go outside I get out my exercise trampoline and let her jump on it-in the beginning I had to hold her hands till her balance got better and she loves to "dance" to the weather channel! :-) If you want and are comfy w/ this you could let him have 20 minutes of video/tv time every day.
I also tried to get her to "be gentle when we touch". If she was rough, I'd gently stroke her cheek and say "we have to be gentle when we touch" then I'd get her to touch MY face and be gentle and since she always wants to emulate Mommy/Daddy that helped.
I think if you take all the advice and try out what you think will work for you-you are the only one of us who knows your son :-), you will find something that will work.
As I said, I use Sesame Street and Dora for things I need to do around the house b/c she will be still (or dance in front of the tv), but I don't have a problem with her watching Some tv as long as it's age appro. I also let her color every day or draw on one of those Magnetic Boards, we also have Reading time daily and I try and "play" with her one on one daily. Unless she's sick she get some "energy burn" time daily-if nothing else we walk to the mailbox and i let her play outside for a little bit or the trampoline inside.
I think a little more Structure/Schedule and helping him learn to be "gentle" or "easy" will help save your sanity.
Some days my little Angel behaves in such a way that I Still want to pull out my hair :-P, But it's getting better.
It's possible that your son, like my sweet wild girl, is very bright, curious (my girl still pulls apart Board Books if left alone with them long enough) and is not "mean" just wants to figure out how things work :-).
Good Luck, and if you need some moral support just send a message!
:-) Hope this Helps,
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L.B. answers from Fayetteville on October 20, 2008
Hmm. I wonder if he has figured out that this is a way of getting attention? So in addition to the other excellent suggestions you've received, I'd say, try giving him attention when he is NOT being destructive. This doesn't mean that you should ignore his destructive behaviors. But make sure that when you are responding to them, remain calm and low-key. What you focus on, you get more of! Praise him when he is gentle, and when he is handling things carefully. And again, really give him lots of love and attention when he is not trying to be destructive. It's easy, being an overworked SAHM, to want to eek out a little time for oneself and to make the most of their quiet moments, but don't wait till he's engaging in negative behaviors before you're showering him with attention (you know what they say: any attention is good to a child, even if it's "negative" attention).
I'm sure you're doing great! Hope this helps!
S.B. answers from Boston on October 26, 2010
I absolutely know what you are talking about. My 3 year old son is the same way: totally destructive, quick tempered, and I cannot leave him for one minute to use the bathroom without coming out and something being destroyed. Not to mention, he mocks me when I try to discipline him. We have no blinds left on the windows, the carpet's been ruined, any book he can get his hands on, even ones that we read together and like, are torn apart and shredded. He throws things in order to knock things down from high places that I put up to keep out of his reach, and with much practice, usually can always knock things down. China, pictures, tv equipment, etc, with a filled sippy cup or play train. The food is the same way - - he is the most stubborn child I have ever met. Will not eat anything unless it is candy or chocolate, and will not eat if I won't give him what he wants for as long as I can let him, before I have to give him a pediasure. He cannot sit in chair to eat for more than 2 minutes and screams to get down and if I don't obey within the split second, he throws his plate of food at or somewhere around me. This past weekend, he threw it on my mother who was having dinner with us and trying to get him to eat. He plays with nutritious food instead of eats it. The only thing I can think of to answer your and my similar questions is what I have been told by my doctor that he may be ADHD. That if he doesn't have a STRICT schedule that pretty much does entail me or someone following him around and providing constant attention or a constant eye on him, he will not change. My doctor suggests a rigid daycare program with other children so that he can learn to behave in a socialized setting and know what comes next and is always being stimulated. Unfortunately, I am a single mother, there are no siblings, so there is no way I can provide this for him alone. And with these kinds of children who have a lot of physical energy - get them into a a program with lots of exercise, activity, the park, etc. That's the only way that will temper down their destructiveness of possessions in the home. And this follows all the way through highschool with extra active boys. Get them into structured sports!
J.R. answers from Tuscaloosa on October 20, 2008
My mother-in-law tells me stories like this about my husband as a child. He destroyed anything and everything, and she cringed when his birthday rolled around because he tore up ALL of his toys. He is now a chemical engineer that is working on his Ph.D.
Don't be too discouraged by his actions, he is learning how things work and why. My husband remembers being destructive as a child, and wanting to know the inner workings and mechanisms of everything. Sounds like your son is an aspiring scientist!
My advice would be to take things apart with him and explain what you are doing and why. And, of course, put things he shouldn't have out of his curious reach.
H.H. answers from Tulsa on October 20, 2008
As for the decor, try to move it above level he can reach. As for his toys. Let him break them. Then when he looks around for a toy that isnt broken and throws a fit, calmly explain to him (2y.o.'s comprehend alot more than they let on) that he wont get any new toys. And if he wants new ones he will have to behave. And if he makes progress SLOWLY, over a period of weeks introduce new unbroken toys to him as a reward for good behavior.
L.J. answers from Birmingham on October 20, 2008
Teach him the word and meaning, "Easy." Speak to him in a soothing, soft voice (even though you want to scream .. don't do it). Show him something and take his hand and hold it with him, pick it up, put it down, rub it, etc. all the time saying, "Eeeeeeaaaaasy." You will have to do this repeatedly until he gets the message and learns what you mean. You will then be able to tell him "be easy with ...your toy, mommy's pretty ..." He may be trying to get attention over baby girl and is acting out because he sees you reacting to him at that point and not to the baby. It most likely is all about attention. Show him the attention in a very calm manner, calm tones and keep him active in something that burns his energy in some other manner. Since you stay at home does he have something organized to do - regular outside play time to RUN, RUN, ride outside toys for more than a few minutes? He needs a couple of hours a day of pretty heavy stimulation and energy burning. They have classes for tumbling for toddlers that you could check out if this might be a concern.
B.L. answers from Oklahoma City on October 20, 2008
Is he angry in general? Is he defiant? Throws lots of fits? Most kids are not destructive just for the fun of it. Is there something in his life making him angry and this is how he shows you? Examples: instability (adults that come in and out of his life), moving, little sister gets too much attention, not enough attention from adults in his life, etc..
Kids don't have the words, so they often show their emotion through their action.